Sean OConnor, director of Channels Systems Engineering, Americas, is a five-year veteran at Polycom with a hidden talent for karaoke. Get to know Sean—including how he got his start in the working world as a cable guy—and get his take on the market and the channel, including what’s on the horizon and how Polycom is evolving to best serve our partners, through the following Q&A.
Q: What is your current position with Polycom and what was your career path to get there?
SEAN: I am the Director of Channels Systems Engineering, Americas and as far as my path to get here? Jeez… I guess I could go all the way back to my first real job; I was a cable guy! Previous to Polycom I was a Senior Sales Engineer at Nortel for a number of years. After joining Polycom as a Systems Engineer I was named Team Lead for the US West – Pacific team and then pursued and became the Systems Engineering Manager for the US West – Pacific team. My professional passions revolve around team successes and really making a difference for our customers and our partners.
Q: What changes are on the horizon within the channel in 2015?
SEAN: I’ve spoken to many partners since taking my new role. The same thing is mentioned over and over about diversifying offerings and skillsets. I’ve spoken to traditional video partners who are now exploring and pursuing things like Microsoft certifications. Conversely I just met with a traditional voice partner who’s diving into video and content head first. In terms of differentiating one’s business at a value added reseller level, if you don’t have advanced skills and experience another reseller will, and the choice of who to work with will be simple for the customer.
Q: How is Polycom evolving to better serve and work with partners?
SEAN: We’re doing this on varying levels across our entire portfolio. In addition to technical and sales enablement efforts, we’re laser focused on helping partners augment their offerings in a shared delivery model. An example is creating and deploying APIs that integrate directly into a customer’s business process and workflow that a partner could utilize as part of a total project they’re implementing. We are relentless in terms of our focus on working with our Channel Partners to help them help us differentiate against their competition. Resellers want a vendor they can trust and win with. Such an exciting time to be within the Polycom Channel Ecosystem!
Q: What role will channel partners play in the work place of the future. What advice do you have for them?
SEAN: I think it comes down to advanced skills, expertise and competencies. Microsoft and API competencies, virtualization, voice and hosted voice and advanced services pertaining to integration and interoperability will be required to support the workplace of the future. I love the creativity and ideology our partners bring, and I love it more when we’re creating together.
Q: Looking into the future what will the channel look like in 2025?
SEAN: My crystal ball is currently at the shop, but what I will venture to say is we’re already such a digital civilization today. We’re seeing a huge shift in terms of what customers are expecting. As more and more technologies are adopted within the enterprise, commercial, GEM and deferral verticals the channel will be highly skilled and experts within customer accounts.
Q: What changes are on the horizon within the market place in 2015? How is Polycom evolving to better serve customers in a changing market?
SEAN: In our industry change is constant. In terms of communication and collaboration, we find ourselves getting into conversations about and around consumption models as well as interoperability versus integration. Polycom is focusing on the collaboration experience, work environments and how it all comes together.
Q: What’s an interesting example from your experiences working with customers to address a business problem?
SEAN: I’ve been here five years so there’s a few. But my favorite was probably a customer headquartered in Silicon Valley. They had major investments with one of our largest competitors. From a visual communications perspective they weren’t leveraging the technology. And the main reasons were that the solutions just weren’t easy, but even more daunting the culture really rejected the idea of using video. We were very diligent in terms of defining use cases on a per business unit basis: IT’s needs and requirements were very different than Marketing’s, and so on. We were able to show the customer how they could utilize some of their existing solutions and really bring the idea of “convergence” to fruition. We were also very successful in terms of making video a cool application to leverage within this organization. This customer now boasts on average ~8,000 hours of video enabled meetings while being able to leverage their voice PBX to bring in audio participants natively. Our dedication to delivering an easy to use and easy to administer collaboration solution that could integrate within existing workflows was the reason they chose us.
Q: What do you like to do in your free time?
SEAN: My son Jackson is eighteen months old and learning something new every day. We love going for walks and hanging out in the back yard. Winters are for Golden State Warriors Basketball and snowboarding when there’s snow (currently a shortage in the California/Nevada Sierra Mountains). Summers are for San Francisco Giants baseball, fishing and growing veggies. But nothing beats hanging out with my wife and son.
Q: What is one fun fact about you?
SEAN: Years ago I was entered into a karaoke contest in Las Vegas. Long story short, I won $2,000 singing “Boogie On Reggae Woman” by Stevie Wonder in the finale. Just don’t ask me to do that on the spot—I am terrible in that format.